Iggy Pop and David Bowie were strong musical partners throughout the ’70s and ’80s, and this 16-track compilation provides an insight into the depth and breadth of their collaborations and friendship.
“Some bands do Stones. Some bands do Chuck Berry. I cover Iggy Pop.” – David Bowie
Bowie was significantly inspired and influenced by The Stooges’ ground-breaking late-60s/early-70s records, even going on to produce their 1973 landmark album Raw Power when they shared the same management company Mainmain.
Bowie famously stuck by Iggy at his lowest ebb in the mid-70s, The Thin White Duke inviting him along on his White Light Tour of 1976 before producing the avant-rock landmark The Idiot, recorded in France, and Lust for Life, written, recorded, and mixed at Hansa Studios in Berlin where the artists were living at the time. Bowie then accompanied Iggy on his triumphant US tour in 1977 playing keyboards alongside the Sales brothers rhythm section and guitarist Ricky Gardiner.
“The friendship was basically that this guy salvaged me from certain professional and maybe personal annihilation – simple as that.”- Iggy Pop
Together they served each other as perfect foils. Working together allowed Bowie to get darker in his songwriting, musicianship and production than he would in his solo work, and Iggy able to focus his self-destructive instincts into a mature and refined artistry. Their work together resonates up to this day, and would go on to influence music and artists on both sides of the Atlantic.
David Bowie & Iggy Pop – 16 Collaborations
1. Sister Midnight – (Bowie, Pop, Alomar) Recorded in Château d’Hérouville, France, in July 1976. Opening track off Iggy’s 1977 solo debut comeback album The Idiot. Earlier, Bowie had included this song on his 1976 tour set list.
2. What in the World – (Bowie) Underrated track off Bowie’s Low album released January 1977, features Iggy prominently on backing vocals.
3. Tonight – (Bowie, Pop) This is the album track on Iggy’s second solo album (Lust for Life) and later covered by Bowie with Tina Turner on backing vocals, before serving as the title track to 1984’s Hugh Padgham produced Tonight for reasons that aren’t clear.
4. Little Miss Emperor – (Bowie, Pop) The first of three co-writes, these tracks lifted from Iggy’s very good Bowie-produced Blah Blah Blah (1986) album.
5. Isolation – (Bowie, Pop) Recorded late April-May 1986, Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland, Blah Blah Blah was Iggy’s most commercially successful album at the time. A highlight.
6. Shades – (Bowie, Pop) Notably includes Kevin Armstrong (Absolute Beginners, Tin Machine, Live Aid) on guitar and co-songwriter, and axe contributions by ex-Pistol Steve Jones.
7. Tiny Girls – (Bowie, Pop) Includes some lovely baroque sax from Bowie throughout, this track off The Idiot conjures up a smoky, late-night Berlin club.
8. Neighborhood Threat – (Bowie, Pop, Gardiner) A track off Iggy’s Lust for Life and another one covered by Bowie and drenched in melodrama, bombast and quite a lot of cheese for Tonight which featured five out of nine tracks with an Iggy Pop credit.
9. Play it Safe – (Bowie, Pop) This track taken from Iggy’s underrated Soldier (1980) LP. Jim Kerr from Simple Minds remembers: “In 1979 Simple Minds went to Rockfield studios in the Welsh countryside to record our second album. It’s probably our most Bowie influenced work. We were in the small studio just teenagers and we were like; Who’s in the big studio? It turned out it was Iggy Pop recording Soldier. One night Iggy comes through our door, talk about worse for wear! Bowie’s with him, holding a can of Heineken, and he goes ‘Skin Up!’ We hung out for a bit and then they disappeared. Twenty minutes later we get a call from the engineer in Studio A, “David would like you all to come round for a football crowd type chorus”. So we pile round pretty drunk, girlfriends and all. Bowie’s taking charge and he’s still got a Heineken and a fag, and we’re all around the mike for this track called Play it Safe. I remember Bowie saying very diplomatically “OK, sounds good. Now, can everyone who doesn’t sing professionally, step away from the mike”. That left me, aged 19, sandwiched between Bowie and Iggy Pop. Not one person had a fucking camera!“
10. Bang Bang – (Pop, Kral) This is the non-hit single from Iggy’s flawed Party (1981) album. The track was produced by Tommy Boyce (The Monkees) and Bowie covered it to close out his Never Let Me Down (1987) album. Also recorded at Mountain Studios, Montreux, Bowie performed it regularly on his Glass Spider tour.
11. Tumble and Twirl – (Bowie, Pop) Carlos Alomar stars on this track off Tonight, a fresh 50-50 co-write in 1984 referencing their recent island travels in Bali and Java together in 1983, conjuring up some sharp jungle imagery on this exuberant, horn-driven rave up. Released as the B-side to Bowie’s flop 7″ single Tonight.
12. Dancing with the Big Boys – (Bowie, Pop, Alomar) Iggy and Dave having fun at the mic in Le Studio Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, where Tonight was recorded. Closing track off Tonight includes some fantastic non-sequiturs only Iggy could dream up: “where there’s trouble there’s poetry”, “your family is a football team“, and “this dot marks your location”.
13. Don’t Look Down – (Pop, Williamson) This is Bowie’s cover of a superb Iggy/James Williamson original from Iggy’s essential New Values (1979) LP, this cover ended up on Tonight. Bowie approaches this in reggae fashion and was the incidental music for the Julian Temple-directed mini-film Jazzin’ for Blue Jean.
14. China Girl – (Bowie, Pop) Iggy’s towering original version off The Idiot, Bowie covered this sumptuously on his mega-hit album Let’s Dance (1983).
15. Lust for Life – (Bowie, Pop) Title track to Iggy’s 1977 album (featuring the Sales brothers, later in Bowie 80s-cleansing rock project Tin Machine). With its punchy Phil Spector style sixties back beat, Lust for Life is now considered the signature Iggy Pop song, and for good reason.
16. Red Money – (Bowie, Pop) Tying things up nicely, this closing track from Bowie’s otherworldly Lodger (1979) album, reworking the compilation opener Sister Midnight, and essentially the closing chapter of the Bowie-Pop Berlin-era recordings.
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Thanks for this list. I knew they collaborated but not the details.
Glad you like it msjadeli, thanks for checking in.
There is a french documentary on the recordings at Le Chateau d’Hérouville. It seems the sessions were totally crazy with Bowie and Iggy for The Idiot.
Great, I’ll have to look that up.
And maybe have you seen the Jarmusch fantastic film “gimme danger”? I reviewed it on my blog.
Oh yeah, I loved that doco. Bought it on DVD and yes I;ve read your excellent review. The Dead Don’t Die indeed. Great work princecranoir
Thank you 😀
I would love to get your take on Julie Delpy (eg: 2 Days in NY).
Don’t have that in my storage, but I got something like “before sunrise” for too long. Need to see it and review.
Thanks for this. I was driving listening to an alternative station and I hear this song that I had never heard before and it sounded so much like David Bowie I thought this cannot be anyone else. And it was stated as an Iggy Pop recording but nothing mentioned about Bowie. I got home and googled if they had recorded together and your detailed reviews popped up. I love hearing about collaborations. It got me to hear some of Iggy Pop’s recordings which I hadn’t heard before. Thank you.
On another note I wish there had been more collaborations between Bowie and Queen. They were masters and what they could have done together would also have been amazing. Thanks again.
You are very welcome. Thanks for reading. Did you find out which Iggy Pop song came on the radio? Further collaborations with Queen would’ve been interesting. There was only the dreaded Lord’s Prayer gig.
Coincidentally, I included Iggy Pop, an artist who wasn’t exactly on my radar screen, in my latest new music post. He just released a new album!
Yes I bought and listened to the new album a few times now. It certainly has it’s moments. I see he’s using some hot new producer. It’s mixed loud! Thanks for checking this article out Christian, I hope you get into Iggy more because of this.
Great article on David Bawie. Thanks for sharing .🙄
Thanks for checking it out Priti
It’s my pleasure. Do visit my blog! 😁
Great list! I’ve really enjoyed revisiting Blah Blah Blah recently. Speaking of which, here’s the demo of “Fire Girl” where Bowie’s backing vocals are quite prominent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9m1SV4TneQ&t=68s&ab_channel=IggyPop-Topic
Thank you Phil that was a great listen. A super little demo of a good song. Nice work Bowie. Blah Blah Blah is always enjoyable, strong songs if a little over embellished with Kizilcay’s drum programming.
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